Jonathan Majors is a STAR
OPINION: What he did as Kang the Conqueror in "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" shows how extraordinary an actor he is.
Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
Jonathan Majors is a star. I don’t mean that in the sense of being someone who’s known by lots of people, i.e. a celebrity, but in the sense that he’s one of those rare, luminous humans who shines in a crowd. He’s a magnetic and intense actor who commands the screen and demands you follow him every second. He’s the real reason to go see “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.”
As the first hour of that film unfolded and veterans like Paul Rudd, Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Douglas tap danced across the screen, I thought, OK, this is a fine little sci-fi movie. Then Majors’ character Kang arrived, and suddenly, I was sucked all the way in. He makes every scene special. It’s not just because of his great voice or the way that he can make almost any line sound like it has the gravity of Shakespeare. It’s not just because of his instrument — his face is rolling with Africanoid curves in a way that recalls a beautiful statue. His particular physiognomy salutes our ancestors — he carries them with him in his brow, his nose and his mouth. If archeologists reconstructed the Sphinx and found that face, I would not be surprised. He is Black male beauty personified.
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In another universe, Majors would be the actor who plays Captain America — because who built this country? — but in this one, he’s Kang, the new supervillain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), the antagonist strong enough to make all the heroes afraid, and the man who will tie together every major Marvel film from now through 2026 at least. But I’m OK with that because Marvel understands that you can’t have a great Marvel movie without an intriguing villain — the studio really respects that role.
But also, Majors’ character Kang is not a psychopath. He’s a brilliant scientist who’s figured out on his own how to move between universes. He doesn’t have superpowers, he’s just really smart. In comic books, the character starts in the 31st century and then leaps back to ancient Egypt just so he can take over. To him, time is a construct that he can manipulate at will, which means the character is genius, but it also means the actor must spend time carefully explaining his relationship to time and making sure audiences understand — if we don’t comprehend Kang’s central attribute then the rest of the movie is hard to follow and the stakes don’t matter. Majors is so good that he can make Kang’s explanation of his ability to play with time seem real and honest. I believe him completely, even when he’s in the midst of some wild science fiction.
Also, in the comics, Kang is white. There’s no reason why he has to be white in the movies but we know how small some people’s imaginations can be when it comes to the race of fictional characters. We have fans who are mad about the Little Mermaid being Black. People are actually demanding that fictional characters who are white be played by actors who are white. So it’s impressive for Majors to leap over all of that to win a massive job, and it’s inspiring to see him take it away from all the white actors who were hoping for a call.
Majors has been rising to mega fame for years — he shined in the 2019 indie “The Last Black Man In San Francisco” and made HBO’s 2020 show “Lovecraft Country” more powerful, and he elevated Spike Lee’s 2020 film “Da 5 Bloodz” and the 2021 Netflix Black cowboy drama “The Harder They Fall.” Now that he’s at the top level of the game, he’s the big villain in Michael B. Jordan’s “Creed III” and in several upcoming Marvel films, including “The Kang Dynasty.” With his immense talent, looks and stardom, we will surely be watching Majors act in huge roles for the rest of our filmgoing days, and I am so here for it. He once told Sway that one day he wants to do a biopic about Frederick Douglass. I don’t watch slavery films anymore, but I would give that one a chance because I trust that if Majors is leading it, it will be powerful.
Touré is a host and Creative Director at theGrio. He is the host of the podcast “Toure Show” and the podcast docuseries “Who Was Prince?” He is also the author of seven books including the Prince biography Nothing Compares 2 U and the ebook The Ivy League Counterfeiter. Look out for his upcoming podcast Being Black In the 80s.
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